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Richard Beck Offers Folly Beach History and Perspectives

I moved to Folly in 1975. For forty-eight years, I have been working to keep commercialization and livability in balance in order to preserve Folly’s authenticity. Please read my recent book Remaining Folly which recounts the history of Folly including a four-year period in the middle eighties when this community let it be known that, first and foremost, Folly wanted to be known as a living and vibrant community that people would want to call home.

Evolving Rental Market

It is true, Folly has always had a healthy rental component. Over the last 10 years, the nature of the rental market has changed from repeat rentals with a personal owner-renter relationship to one that is less personal, less connected and less compatible with the livability that the permanent residents should reasonably expect. What used to be a three-bedroom two bath house for rent has become a six-bedroom six bath house. These changes created a rental market that got out of balance, harming the right of permanent residents to peaceful enjoyment of their homes.  In my mind, protecting the right to a reasonable enjoyment of the homes of the people that live on Folly as permanent residents comes first. People want to visit authentic communities. That has always been Folly’s biggest draw.

The STR Cap Insures Balance

The cap is a reality. Folly is not alone in its desire to limit the commercialism of its residential neighborhoods. Mount Pleasant’s cap is 400, Greenville recently enacted a cap of 300 investor short term rentals (ISTR’s). I could go on but the point is obvious. A balance between residential commercialism and livability is important not only to the current permanent residents, but to the very future of the community itself. 800 is 30% of all housing units, a large percentage large by comparison to its neighbors.

Folly Real Estate

Decreasing home values are happening nationwide. Possibly more so for the six-bedroom, six bath houses because their values were falsely inflated by the perceived unlimited potential for commercialization of the residential district and very low interest rates. This community chose to set limits to guarantee its future as a place to call home. Those that have str licenses should do well except for general changes in the marketplace nationally.

Prices have plummeted because interest rates have soared and the general market for ISTR’s became saturated (a bubble). Interest rates ballooned from 3.04% in Feb. 2022 to 7.05 in Feb. of 2023.Today’s conventional 30-year mortgage on a primary residence will cost you 8.109%. basic math shows that buyers have experienced a 50% decrease in their buying power since 2022. The  value of a short-term rental house, in real terms, was declining before the cap was passed.

The STR Wait-List

Some argue that a ISTR Wait-list process will be too long and that no one will want to buy a house on Folly that they cannot rent short term. This perception appears to be misgiven as the number of ISTR licenses has decreased from almost 1200 this spring to about 960 today. The waitlist concept is not so farfetched as described..

Can the wait-list be friendlier to transfers to heirs in legitimate cases of family-owned homes? Yes, it can, if done carefully. There are three pro resident candidates that have expressed a desire to see that happen as well as being creative about producing more long-term rentals for workers and city staff.

In closing, it is important to understand Folly’s history and its permanent resident’s insistence that Folly remain a place to build a community and to call it home.

Considerately, Richard L. Beck DMD

City Council 1978 – 1982, mayor 1982-1989

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